Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


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Setting Up the Perfect Campsite

Tips on picking a solid site.

Since much of our weather in Texas is warm or downright hot, a nice shade tree can make a huge difference in comfort while camping. Look for a site with good tree cover (even if it's cloudy or dark when you're looking for a site.)

Being near the bathroom is convenient, but it can also be noisy, and campers may be walking by your site all day. Finding the right balance of convenience and privacy is key.

When setting up your tent, notice which way the wind is blowing and where the fire ring is. Pick a spot where smoke won't be blowing into your tent all evening. Anticipate where the sun will come up in the morning. If you don't want to be blasted by the sun right at sunrise, choose a place with some tree or brush cover.

Pick a tent spot that's level and is free of rocks, branches and roots. Sliding toward one side of the tent is no fun, and discovering a rock under your sleeping bag after you've set up the tent is a sure source of frustration. Use trees or boulders as wind blocks. Look down and look up. Make sure you're not setting up your tent on an ant bed or other hazard. Also make sure there are no dead branches overhead that could fall on your tent.

Avoid valleys that might funnel water toward your tent. Look for signs of flooding, washouts or debris and avoid those spots so you don't wake up in a pool of water. If your ground cloth is bigger than your tent, fold the excess cloth underneath the tent. Otherwise, it will catch and pool any rainwater. In cold weather, putting an extra blanket on the floor of the tent will add a layer of insulation and keep you warmer.


If you can't bring your own firewood, most state parks have firewood for sale - either from the camp store or a park host. If you don't have kindling, you can obtain smaller pieces of wood by using a hatchet or knife to cut smaller pieces from the bigger logs you brought or purchased. Organizing the different sizes of wood into piles will help make building a fire go more smoothly. A folding shovel works well as a tool for moving coals, adjusting logs and spreading out the fire's remains when you leave. A good pair of heavy-duty heat-resistant gloves will make it a breeze to take hot pots off the fire or move campfire grates. They're great for handling cast iron while cooking.

Foil! You can cook all kinds of things in foil, including dinners and desserts, and using foil means you won't have to wash as many dishes. Foil used inside pots and pans also will make cleanup easier. In your ice chest, use frozen water jugs as ice. They'll stay frozen longer than cubes, and you can drink the water when it melts. Plus, you won't have to worry about your food getting soaked by melting ice. Keeping a separate cooler for drinks may simplify things and allow your ice to last longer.

Put a cork on the end of your roasting stick when it's not in use to keep it from poking your or your equipment.

And what better way to use your roasting stick than to top it with fluffy marshmallows? Tired of the same old s'mores? Maybe not, but some adventurous eaters out there have been reinventing this campfire favorite with new flavors combinations. See what you think...


Peanut Butter S'mores

Start off simple by putting peanut butter on your graham cracker before adding the traditional choclate and marshmallow. Nutella and cookie butter can also work.


Rice Krispie S'mores

You probably loved Rice Krispie treats as a kid, and maybe you still do. Substitue Rice Krispie treats for graham crackers and open wide. (Hint: Make the treats as this as possible for easier eating.)


Reese's S'mores

Try this chocolate and peanut butter treat with your marshmallow and graham cracker.


Strawberry/Banana S'mores

Take your s'mores up a notch by adding strawberries and banana slices to your chocolate and marshmallow treat.


Oreo S'mores

Open an Oreo just as you usually do, but instead of scraping off the icing with your teeth, slide in a roasted marshmallow instead.


Minty S'mores

For a change of pace, use mint chocolate instead of regular chocolate.


Samoa S'mores

If you like those Girl Scout Samoa/Caramel deLite cookies, you might want to try this: Add caramel and toasted coconut to your s'more.


Elvis S'mores

Take care of business by adding peanut butter and banana slices to your graham cracker along with the chocolate and marshmallow (bacon optional).



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